The UN Children's Agency (UNICEF) recently published the Improving Child Nutrition report, an in-depth look at the current state of child malnutrition in the world. The report suggests necessary reforms and highlighted success stories. Based on the report, here are eight ways to achieve better nutrition among children.
One: Prevention and treatment of micronutrient deficiencies
Micronutrients such as vitamin A, iron, zinc and folic acid are the most common deficiencies among women and children in developing countries. To combat these deficiencies UNICEF suggests home delivery of supplements and fortification of staple foods.
Credit: Tim McKulka/UNMIS
Two: Promotion of good sanitation practices and access to clean drinking water
Diarrhea and intestinal infections stemming from an unclean water source can lead to a loss of vital nutrients and in severe cases stunting and even death. By improving sanitary conditions, the majority of these risks can be eliminated. This includes building an efficient waste management system, encouraging practices such as hand washing, and improving access to clean drinking water.
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Three: Focus on maternal nutrition
The nutritional status of mothers before pregnancy is directly related to child outcomes. UNICEF hopes to limit the number of children born underweight and malnourished by providing expecting mothers with micronutrient supplements and creating educational programming to inform expecting mothers on how to best cater to their child's needs.
Pictured: Bati Mutua, 19, delivered her son, Felix, at Alice Health Services. The staff taught her how to breastfeed and care for her son, she says. Clinic director, Alice Githae, recommends breastfeeding infants for the first six months.
Credit: John Rae/The Global Fund
Five: Community-based approaches
All these initiatives can be better carried out through community-based health organizations. The advantages of this system includes counseling and support as well as organizing follow-up visits for children and nutrition specific interventions. This holistic support system provides an outlet for mothers to ask questions and receive nutrition education.
Credit: Kate Holt/Irin
Six: Improving agriculture
The major challenge regarding food security isn't the amount of food produced but rather the ease of access. Providing a simple affordable way for mothers to acquire nutritious food for themselves and their children remains a struggle. UNICEF suggests that the answer may lie in increasing the nutritional content in the food that is available through crop biofortification and post-harvest fortification.
Credit: Candace Feit/IRIN
Seven: Create a safety net
Social protection programs protect people whose livelihoods are at stake. UNICEF suggests that these safety nets provide substitutes for income by replacing it with targeted cash transfers and increased food access. These initiatives help to fight malnutrition to severely impoverished and at-risk individuals.
Credit: Tami Hultman/AllAfrica
Eight: Reduce poverty
Undernutrition is tied to poverty levels. UNICEF advocates for “equity-focused nutrition programming" to effectively address the inequalities within society that place the least advantaged at greater risk of disease. For example, in societies where greater preference is placed on boys, the nutritional and educational needs of girls can be overshadowed.
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